Answer: When it is missing the point.
Spoiler: This ends up being about the iPad.
Answer: When it is missing the point.
Spoiler: This ends up being about the iPad.
We’re getting some practical experience using Croquet away from of the confines of the lab and out on the wide open Internet. One problem we found is that our “outgoing” bandwidth (from each machine to the others) is often limited by, e.g., consumer Internet Service Providers. At my home, if I try to send more than about 30 KBytes/sec, my ISP kicks in a sort of governor in which it transmits the bits more slowly to keep my upload speed constant.
When this happens, it takes longer for the bits to reach the Croquet router that timestamps and redistributes them to all the participating machines. No participating machine, including our own, will act on this until it comes back to us from the router. So when the messages take longer to get to the router, they get timestamped for execution farther and farther from when they were sent. If we keep getting throttled, we end up falling further and further behind. It doesn’t take long before you do something and it seems like nothing ever happens in response. So you really don’t want to get your upload speed clamped.
Whenever we move the mouse around, the mouse position is sent along with a bunch of other stuff. When we send voice or video, much more data goes. This is fine on a high-speed Local Area Network, but not so good in the real world. We can and should send a lot less data. But how efficient is efficient enough? With different networks, there isn’t a single target number. The limits could even vary with the time of day or other traffic.
We’ve had some good preliminary results with a rather elegant solution.
I sometimes get asked about Croquet for computing devices with lower graphics capability, such as today’s phone/PDA/iPods. I think the train of thought is that there’s so much in Croquet that could be valuable independently of the immersive 3D environment, so shouldn’t that part be available on lesser machines?
I feel it is only worthwhile to initially build Croquet – all of Croquet and only one Croquet – on machines with the best commonly available graphics capability and also on those with no visual capability whatsoever!
In What Is It About Immersive 3D?, I claim that being immersed in among the application components allows and encourages us to mix and match among bits and pieces of different applications. That is, we’re getting rid of the idea of having separate “applications” on a computer.
I forgot to mention the other aspect of immersive 3d: that we want to get rid of the computer. Well, actually, that we want to make using each application object feel like a real world object, not a computer thingie. The direct manipulation feel makes it easier to work with stuff, and the lack of indirect abstractions and symbols makes it easier to understand.
A few examples below the fold.
How do we integrate Croquet with the Web? How do we integrate with legacy applications in general?
We interact with computers now in a document model developed by Alan Kay’s Xerox PARC team a long time ago. (Xerox: The Document Company.) It is as is if we have our head bent over our desktop, looking at a piece of paper. We slide other pieces of paper in and out below the face of our bowed head. In Croquet, Kay’s team today lets us lift our head up off the desk and look up at the world around us, including our coworkers. But just as the 3D world has paper within it, shouldn’t the Croquet world have document-based software within it? Yes!
Marshall McLuhan said that the interesting thing about a medium is what it makes the user become in order to use it.
What does Croquet make people become? Rick McGear, a Croquet advocate at HP, says that using Croquet makes us become programmers.
What is programming? The classic definition is of computational processes, but object-oriented programming seems to take a different view. And Croquet’s TeaTime architecture describes objects in terms of a mapping between message histories. I’m not finding process to be satisfying.
The computer spreadsheet doesn’t get enough credit among computer programmers. I think that more than any other one concept, VisiCalc, 1-2-3, and Excel were the killer app for the personal computer. As a programmer, I have tended first to think of formulae and calculation mechanisms when I think of spreadsheets, but the UI and development style are perhaps more significant. For each individual cell, you can look at the value, the formula, or the formatting, and change each through a menu. You can incrementally build up quite a complex application all on your own, never leaving the very environment you use to view the results. Why doesn’t all software work this way, only better? That’s what I’m working on.
In this information-laden world, who really wants to deal with addresses, ss#’s, a bevy of phone numbers, even more account numbers, part numbers, and on and on? It seems we sometimes need the precision afforded by (usually non-mnemonic!!!) names, but we don’t like it. What if it’s not necessary?
I am a huge fan of media critic/video essayist/YouTube creator Lindsay Ellis. If you want to know why, check out her YouTube channel or this really amazing speech she gave at the XOXO Festival about surviving bad faith internet attack mobs. I’ve always had this daydream that someday I could get her interested in something we work on at my employer Public Knowledge. That way I’d be able to meet her, we’d geek out about policy and geek culture stuff, and she would become this amazing spokesperson for one of our causes, like net neutrality.
Well, daydream still just a daydream, but turns out Lindsay Ellis is now front and center in a fight about mandatory copyright filtering, and how it actually impacts artists and creativity that highlights what we and others have warned about for years. It also flags the likely future problems for creators in Europe, since Article 17 of the 2019 EU Copyright Directive essentially requires copyright filters for compliance. It also illustrates the importance of fair use in encouraging the creation of new works and new businesses (Lindsay Ellis has grown her video essay business to where she employs 4 people).
To give the headline: copyright filters can’t identify fair use, and the refusal of platforms to include an actual appeal process capable of making fair use determinations. As a result, copyright filtering does not “protect artists.” It heavily favors one particular and narrow set of creators over a much larger, broader set of creators — because things like education are not recognized as “art” or “creation” by the major labors and lobbyists driving the debate.
I unpack all this below . . . .
Last week, Politico reported that the White House was considering a potential “Executive Order” (EO) to address the ongoing-yet-unproven allegations of pro-liberal, anti-conservative bias by giant Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. (To the extent that there is rigorous research by AI experts, it shows that social media sites are more likely to flag posts by self-identified African Americans as “hate speech” than identical wording used by whites.) Subsequent reports by CNN and The Verge have provided more detail. Putting the two together, it appears that the Executive Order would require the Federal Communications Commission to create regulations designed to create rules limiting the ability of digital platforms to “remove or suppress content” as well as prohibit “anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive” practices around content moderation. The EO would also require the Federal Trade Commission to somehow open a docket and take complaints (something it does not, at present, do, or have capacity to do – but I will save that hobby horse for another time) about supposed political bias claims.
(I really don’t expect I have to explain why this sort of ham-handed effort at political interference in the free flow of ideas and information is a BAD IDEA. For one thing, I’ve covered this fairly extensively in chapters five and six of my book, The Case for the Digital Platform Act. Also, Chris Lewis, President of my employer Public Knowledge, explained this at length in our press release in response to the reports that surfaced last week. But for those who still don’t get it, giving an administration that regards abuse of power for political purposes as a legitimate tool of governance power to harass important platforms for the exchange of views and information unless they promote its political allies and suppress its critics is something of a worst case scenario for the First Amendment and democracy generally. Even the most intrusive government intervention/supervision of speech in electronic media, such as the Fairness Doctrine, had built in safeguards to insulate the process from political manipulation. Nor are we talking about imposing common carrier-like regulations that remove the government entirely from influencing who gets to use the platform. According to what we have seen so far, we are talking about direct efforts by the government to pick winners and losers — the opposite of net neutrality. That’s not to say that viewpoint-based discrimination on speech platforms can’t be a problem — it’s just that, if it’s a problem, it’s better dealt with through the traditional tools of media policy, such as ownership caps and limits on the size of any one platform, or by using antitrust or regulation to create a more competitive marketplace with fewer bottlenecks.)
I have a number of reasons why I don’t think this EO will ever actually go out. For one thing, it would completely contradict everything that the FCC said in the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” (RIFO) repealing net neutrality. As a result, the FCC would either have to reverse its previous findings that Section 230 prohibits any government regulation of internet services (including ISPs), or see the regulations struck down as arbitrary and capricious. Even if the FCC tried to somehow reconcile the two, Section 230 applies to ISPs. Any “neutrality” rule that applies to Facebook, Google, and Twitter would also apply to AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.
But this niggles at my mind enough to ask a good old law school hypothetical. If Trump really did issue an EO similar to the one described, what could the FCC actually do under existing law?